Equipped

Having the means and ability to make an emergency fire is an essential survival skill. It requires two key items: something that generates a spark or flame, and tinder to catch the spark or flame and start your fire. For the latter, I have long recommended Vaseline-coated cotton balls (though a variety of other pre-made…

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There comes a point when insect repellent just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes the biting bugs are just too thick and ferocious to deal with, whether it’s a swarm of black flies, mosquitoes, no-see-ums, or some other collection of flying blood-sucking micro-monsters. Even if you’re using enough insect repellent to keep them from biting, it can…

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It’s one of the most useful and versatile items I throw in my pack: a length of lightweight, all-purpose cord. From guylines to clotheslines, shoe laces to dog leashes, it’s remarkable how many different uses you can find for this simple, inexpensive item. Also amazing is the number of different types of cord available. Here’s…

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‘Tis the mud season in the mountains of New England, a good time to review how to keep stuff—including mud and slop—out of your footwear when you’re hiking. A key way to do this is to wear ankle gaiters over your hiking footwear, which blocks mud, grit, and other debris from getting inside, because hiking around…

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If your boots have been languishing in the closet all winter, or you’ve been using them to stomp through the snowy season, it’s time to get them cleaned, conditioned, and ready to go. Here’s the three-step process I recommend. (And while this post is geared toward all-leather hiking boots rather than boots constructed from fabric…

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Ultralight backpacking quilts have been around for years. Now they are one of the leading items of gear used by Appalachian trail thru-hikers. One company in particular, Minnesota-based Enlightened Equipment, has become a go-to for ultralight hikers. What is a backpacking quilt? Backpacking quilts are essentially down blankets that have been modified to perform in…

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If you’re out adventuring in sub-freezing conditions, you should be regularly stuffing calories into your face. You want to ensure you have ample energy to generate body heat and sustain the level of exertion that is required to snowshoe, ski, or otherwise tromp through a snow- and ice-covered landscape. The challenge is that many common hiking…

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I bike commute year-round on a 28-mile round-trip journey just outside of Boston, much of it on the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway. In winter, when snow and ice coat the bike path, I switch from my regular commuting bike to a 29er mountain bike with fully studded tires. And it’s this bike that takes the brunt…

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Down is amazing stuff, a natural miracle material that we strive, in vain, to replicate using synthetic materials and insulation. I’ve written before about its incredibly intricate structure, but one of its other remarkable qualities is its longevity. Properly cared for, down will last for decades without losing much of its loft or insulating powers….

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A sleeping bag is a voluminous piece of gear that requires large swaths of polyester or nylon. If it contains synthetic insulation as well, you’re talking about snuggling in a substantial amount of man-made material. Which is fine, but better if it comes from recycled sources. That can really narrow your search if you’re looking…

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